A trip to Berlin, Germany

We just got back from an European trip and it was soooo wonderful. I love Europe, it’s history, it’s old, interesting buildings, streets and I would happily travel there every year.

We travelled via a bus tour, our first time and it was really great. No worrying about schedules (someone else did that for us), traffic, directions or parking. But we had alot of time on our own, which made us very happy.  All in all, it was a very stressless holiday.

The itinerary was Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. And with a few town/cities in between the major stops.

Today, I’m sharing Berlin, which was our first stop and where we stayed for 3 nights.

I wasn’t overly excited about visiting Berlin, but the closer it got, and the more I read about it, the more intrigued I got. I had just finished reading Ken Follett’s series on the WWII, in the summer, so that was a good history refresher for me.

We arrived after the loooonnng overnight flight and jumped on our bus to get to our hotel. We stayed on the Western side of Berlin and I loved our hotel.  Here’s a few pics from the lobby and our room. The bathroom was very funky with it’s overscaled art on the glass door.

H10 Berlin Ku'Damm       H10 Berlin Ku'Damm

H10 Berlin Ku'Damm    H10 Berlin Ku'Damm

On the way to the hotel, the history lessons started when we stopped at the Olympic Stadium where the 1936 Olympics were held.

Olympic Stadium Berlin

That night we met up with our fellow travellers for dinner and to get acquainted. The next morning we started off with a bus tour of the city for the morning. A great way to get your bearings in a new city and we saw the double row of bricks that designate where the Berlin Wall had stood.

Berlin wall

We also walked along the part of the wall that is still standing. It has been graffitied and beautified by art. The wall ran pretty much along the side of the Spree river, which divides the city in the two parts.

Berlin Wall Berlin wall

Not far from the remaining parts of the Wall is the Oberbaum Bridge which is an amazing red bricked double deck bridge that crosses the Spree (built in 1894).

Oberbaum bridge

We visited the Brandenburg Gate and saw Bellevue Palace (the residence of the German President) and also Berlin’s Konzerhaus (Concert hall) where a busker was blowing huge bubbles to the delight of many kids and adults.

Brandenburg gate

Berlin concert hall

Checkpoint Charlie was another stop and I have to recommend the museum at the checkpoint, it seemed a little small and gimmicky when we first went in, but it actually was huge, it just goes on and on, and we easily could have spent half a day there. So many stories on how German’s coped during the war and how some managed to escape East Berlin and some that didn’t.

Checkpoint charlie

We then visited the Holocaust Monument, (also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), it is a stark and cold place. The artist did not give any explanation for the monument so we are left to interpret it on our own. I think he meant us to feel stark, cold and alone. The long tunnels and maze like structure were built to allow us to feel what it is like to be caught in a maze and to keep trying to get free and into the light.

Holocaust Monument, Berlin Holocaust Monument, Berlin

Literally a block and a half away from this monument is the site of Hitler’s bunker, where he committed suicide. There is no building or even a plaque on this site, it is a parking lot. The only way you know it was there is there is a sign describing what had lain beneath the concrete.  It felt like, Germany has vowed to not let any of these sites become a memorial to him.

Hitler's bunker site

We also went down the huge boulevards that run throughout Berlin and saw typical communist apartment buildings, that were built during the 50’s – 80’s.

Berlin

Berlin

On a lighter note, we also visited Charlottenburg Palace, the German palace that was modelled on Versailles. If you’ve been to Versailles, you’ll see the similarities in these pictures. The grounds were also beautiful but at that point, our feet were done, so we didn’t do too much exploring of it.  I’m thinking I’ll do a full post on this palace at a later date as the flooring and chandeliers were Ah Mazing!

Charlottenburg palace

Charlottenburg Palace Charlottenburg Palace Charlottenburg palace

We also stopped into the sixth floor of the KaDeWe mall that is legendary in Europe for it’s amazing selection of any type of food and drink that you could desire. We of course, bought some amazing pastry to enjoy.

KaDeWe

KaDeWe

The Sony Centre is another cool sight in a city that doesn’t stop.

Sony centre

Did I mention that the bars in Berlin have no closing hours and also you can walk along the street with your beer or alcoholic drink of choice with no issues? It’s definitely a party city for the young and the young at hearts.

We also saw these crate sofas…. crate beds??? in at least two places in the city. (I’ve blurred out the faces as best I could).

crate sofas crate beds

Bears are everywhere, sort of a Germany’s mascot, they are often standing on their heads and are always painted in interesting colours and designs. Art and creativity are everywhere in Berlin.

thumbnail

There is also Museum Island, which comprises 5 different museums. We didn’t get to all five, but we did manage to get to the Pergamon which is one of the most famous ones. It houses classical antiquities, such as  archaeological treasures such as:

the Market Gate of Miletus, it has reconstructed from the ruins found in the Middle East.

Pergamon museum

And the Ishtar Gate of Babylon also reconstructed from ruins. Pergamon museum

The last day we were there we went on a boat cruise on the Spree river and it was a fabulous way to see the city. I took way, way too many pictures of the Berlin Cathedral as it was just so photogenic.

Reichstag from Spree river Boat cruise, Spree river

Boat cruise Berlin Cathedral

That night we also saw the Reichstag dome. This is the glass dome at the top of their Parliament building. After you get to the top by elevator, you read the history of their government, by circling around the centre column. Once that is done, you can walk up the long, twisting ramp to get to the outdoor viewing area and are treated to an amazing view of the city. It was pretty spectacular to do this at night.

Reichstag

Reichstag Reichstag

Reichstag

The blue seats you see below are their parliament seats.

We ate well in Berlin and enjoyed their very welcoming citizens. People were always quick to help and get us going in the right direction when we looked lost. We enjoyed a couple of hours lounging in this very casual and cool bar, right on the side of the Spree river, near the Island Museums, where we were serenaded by talented musicians. I could have happily stayed there for another few hours.

bar on the banks of the Spree river

And one last beautiful photo of the Cathedral.

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin surprised me with it’s beauty, creativity and history and I’d definitely go back in a heartbeat. So if you get the chance to visit, go.

Lisa

Catching up….

So how is everyone? I’m great. I’ve had a ridiculous crazy end of summer, early fall, but it’s all good. I thought it’d be a good time to catch up with everyone and share all my news.

So first up, my daughter got married a few weekends ago at our cottage. And for those of you that follow me, you may remember my son, also got married at the cottage, the same weekend, last year.  Crazy two home grown weddings in one year…and yes, I’m still recovering. So pretty much for the months of August and September, we were busy getting the place wedding ready, which entailed having the exterior window frames painted, the beach roto-tillered within an inch of it’s life, roof repairs and of course, the never ending job of keeping critters from ripping up our lawn, for the oh so tasty grubs (we kind of failed on this point, but I’ll get to that later). We also were having a new furnace and air exchanger (which also acts as an air conditioner) installed the week before the wedding. So needless to say, I was a little stressed out about it all, until it was finally installed and working the Tuesday before the wedding….phew!

My daughter and son-in-law had decided on late fall, so that it would be nice and cool for them….well, not exactly how it turned out. We had our heat wave in mid to late September this year, so our cool fall wedding turned into a blazing hot 40 celsius summer wedding. So obviously, we cancelled the propane tent heaters we had ordered.  But at least it wasn’t raining and the a/c was working!!!

Here’s a few candid shots from the day.

wedding ready beach

wedding flowers

Bride and groom

Wedding

It was a spectacularly great day and since one of my son-in-law’s groomsmen, is a master of fireworks, we had a spectacular show once it got dark. You can check my Instagram video to see them. And you can’t even see the totally ripped up grass, courtesy of the family of raccoons that were being well fed with grubs….sigh…. Oh well, nothing is perfect.

So obviously the wedding kept me busy and just a few days before the wedding, the cottage was photographed for a design magazine. This was sooooooo exciting for me, of course, but it’s an incredible amount of work to try and get everything ready and picture perfect. So all the things I had put off and hadn’t finished, now needed to be done yesterday.  So there was alot of measuring, sourcing, purchasing, picking up, transporting of items, and of course, cleaning, lots and lots of cleaning. Here’s a few shots I took of the cottage prior to the photographer arriving.

Beach chairs

Conversation area on the deck with propane fire pit and

cottage dining room

cottage floral arrangement

cottage front porch

I’ll be sure and let you know when the issue comes out, but don’t hold your breath, it’s going to be awhile, as that is just the way it is, in the design magazine industry.

In between these two things, I’ve been working on completing a cottage reno and starting two bathroom renos. One bath is in full mode now, hopefully done in a week or two, and the other should start in the next few weeks. Here’s a little sneak peek of where the first one is heading, design-wise.

Bathroom tile selection, white and bright

Just realized the adhesive is showing on the top tile…opps. And the little squares are paint options for the clients to view. Once I have proper photos, I’ll let you know which paint colour was chosen.

And just yesterday, I was absolutely stunned to find out that I was nominated as one of the top 100 influencers in Interior Design for 2018. So if you have a minute and feel that I’ve somehow influenced your design style, I’d love your vote. Just click here or on the picture below and you’ll go directly to my name on the list.  Voting is open until Oct 10 and you can vote daily.  And just for that, I’m sending you a big hug and thank you!

Design Hounds Top 100 Influencers Nominee

 

So that’s all my news, sorry for such a long post, but I had a lot to cover. Have a fabulous weekend and to all my fellow Canadians, Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your turkey day!

Lisa